Opinion: Kindles are the death of literature

Sarahbeth Caplin

Sarahbeth Caplin

Sarahbeth Caplin is a senior English major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]

I’ve been working on a book for the last year or so. It’s up to 120 pages and is still nowhere near finished. With all the blood, sweat and tears I’ve poured into it, I’m proud of how it’s turning out, and I’ve even started daydreaming about what the cover will look like. I long for the day when I can hold it in my hands, smell the pages fresh from the press and maybe sign a copy or two.

I’ll be damned if the majority of the population has given up on the true craftsmanship of bookmaking by then and buys them for only a dollar on their Kindles.

The invention of the Kindle, a handhold device with a library of digital books, is a painful blow to a book-loving English major like myself. I carry a bag that bears a quote from Erasmus that pretty much sums up my life: “When I have a little money, I’ll buy books, and if any is left, then I’ll buy food and clothes.” I started writing “books” out of construction paper once I was old enough to hold a crayon. My mom still has the first one I wrote for her one Mother’s Day, and you can bet that she would prefer the real thing over a downloaded Kindle version.

There was a time when making books was an art form. Given the detail of the covers and the intricate lettering on the pages, it’s no wonder that books from all time periods are a treasure in many museums, and even in people’s homes. The Kindle strips away this rich artistry, which is also stripping away culture. The Kindle might also ruin my favorite fantasy of how I’ll meet my future husband: at Borders, both of us reaching for the last copy of a C.S. Lewis book that neither of us has read. If my future spouse and I both have Kindles, we’d never have the need to leave our homes to get books, and we would never be able to meet. How tragic.

I think part of the appeal of a downloaded book instead of a real one is the increasing laziness that is taking over this generation. With texting and Facebook-messaging being the ultimate forms of communication, it’s no wonder so many of us feel more comfortable reading off a screen than an actual printed book. While I can understand the appeal of using a Kindle to save money on textbooks for classes or taking up less space in a travel bag, I’m still not convinced that those are good enough reasons to possibly nix the necessity of real books in the very near future.

Believe me, as an English major I’ve experienced my share of back and shoulder problems from carrying too many books to class. If I end up needing a back brace, then I’ll consider purchasing a Kindle. Until then, I will continue to build my Beauty-and-the-Beast-inspired library, even if it costs me the necessity of food.